Divorce is one of the most stressful life events that an individual can go through. Ending a marriage changes your family dynamic, finances, and often even your place of residence. When children are involved, the stress can be even greater. One thing that individuals can control during a divorce is knowledge. Understanding the Indiana divorce process can help bring certainty to a tumultuous time.
Steps in the Indiana Divorce Process
The divorce process varies greatly among the states, and Indiana divorce laws are very specific regarding all of the steps that need to be taken before a divorce can be finalized. A Carmel Fishers family lawyer at Camden & Meridew, P.C. can help walk you through every step and ensure that you are prepared along the way.
First Steps in the Indiana Divorce Process: Filing and Provisional Hearing
The first step in divorce in Indiana is filing a petition for dissolution of marriage with the court. Under Indiana Code § 31-15-2-5, the petition must include specific information such as the date the parties separated, the names and dates of birth of children, the address of each spouse, and more. The petition must also include the grounds for dissolving marriage. The grounds for dissolving a marriage in Indiana Code § 31-15-2-3 include the following:
- Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage;
- The conviction of a felony (of either party) after the marriage;
- Impotence, existing at the time of the marriage; or
- Incurable insanity (of either party) for two years or more.
Indiana divorce laws dictate that the petition must be filed with the court and also served on (formally delivered to) the other spouse. In some cases, one or both spouses may request a provisional hearing under Indiana Code § 31-15-4-1, asking the court to enter an order for temporary maintenance, child support, or possession of property while the divorce is pending.
Sometimes called a preliminary hearing, a provisional order entered after a hearing or based on an agreement establishes each spouse’s rights and responsibilities during the divorce process. When the divorce is finalized, the final judgment and decree of dissolution replaces any provisional orders entered in the case.
Negotiating during the Waiting Period
After the filing of the petition for dissolution and/or requesting a provisional hearing, spouses may begin negotiating to settle details like maintenance and property division. Negotiation requires an exchange of information regarding assets and debts of each party. This is initially accomplished by completing and exchanging a financial declaration form.
Many couples are successful in sorting out these issues through private negotiations or mediation. The state encourages private negotiations and explicitly allows for most settlement disputes to agree in writing under Indiana Code § 31-15-2-17. Regardless of any agreement, there is a waiting period for finalizing a divorce in Indiana. Even if both parties agree to all terms of the divorce, a court may not grant the petition until 60 days have passed since the petition for dissolution was initially filed.
Sorting Out Divorce Issues Involving Children
If there are dependent children of the marriage, the divorce process is a little more complicated. Even the most amicable divorces can run into hurdles when it comes to settling child-involved matters. Indiana divorce laws require the agreement or final settlement between spouses to address several child-related issues, including legal custody, parenting time, and child support.
In addition to settling these matters, the court usually requires each spouse to complete a parenting class to help them learn how to deal with the new family dynamic. When spouses disagree on the custody arrangement or parenting time, evidence from professional third parties such as custody evaluation specialists might be necessary. In such cases, sorting out issues relating to children in the divorce process can add weeks or even months to court proceedings.
Final Steps in the Indiana Divorce Process
Once all the relevant issues have been resolved and the 60-day waiting period has passed, the parties may submit a settlement agreement to the court or request a final hearing. Upon review and acceptance of a settlement agreement or, alternatively, after considering the evidence offered in a final hearing, the court will issue a judgment and decree of dissolution of marriage.
The decree and judgment mark the end of the marriage and the beginning of your responsibilities post-divorce. The parties are legally bound by the terms of the decree and judgment, and either can take the other back to court for failure to comply.
How Long Does Divorce Take in Indiana?
No two divorces are the same, and the circumstances around each dissolution of marriage dictate how long the process can take. As discussed above, the minimum period to finalize a divorce in Indiana is 60 days from the filing of the petition for dissolution. However, few divorces are settled within 60 days.
Most divorces require longer for negotiations to work out the details of the final settlement. Spouses are generally required to produce a lot of documentation related to assets, debts, employment, and more. This document production can take time. In addition, when there are hearings involved, weeks or months can go by between hearing dates.
Even the most experienced divorce attorneys cannot predict precisely how long it will take to finalize a divorce in Indiana. However, parties should be prepared to stick with the process for months.
Contact Your Trusted Carmel Fishers Family Lawyer for Help Navigating the Indiana Divorce Process
If you are looking for an Indiana divorce attorney, look no further than the family law attorneys at Camden & Meridew, P.C. We have the knowledge and experience needed to help you navigate divorce proceedings, no matter how complicated. For help navigating the Indiana divorce process, get in touch with a Carmel Fishers family lawyer today by calling 317-770-0000 or by filling out our online contact form.